Gothic Readings, compiled by Rictor Norton


CHARLES DIBDIN (1745–1814)

Scenery. – A house neatly fitted up in the modern cottage style; a door in the centre of the scene and one on each side: over the centre, the words 'Circulating Library,' in large letters; on one side, 'The Reading Room,' on the opposite 'Academy.'

Trian. – . . . So, so – in times like these it requires every man of business to be as watchful as Cerberus, in order to obtain a decent livelihood &150; and, egad, if I hadn't, like Cerberus, a triple head, I should never have managed to become, at once, the superintendant of three literary departments, [looking round] 'Academy,' 'Library,' and 'Reading Room,' – by which means I draw the whole village to my interest; the women read my novels, the men my newspapers, and the children come to school. To be sure, the news-room is a little too close to the academy, for my customers can't read for the chattering of the boys, and the scholars can't study for the quarrels of the newspaper politicians, who, while they damn the Times, and upset the Globe, are all ready to fight for the honour of the British Press.

Enter DICKY.

          Well, Dicky, you have carried out the books?
          Dicky. – Yes, Sir; here is the list of what's delivered and what is wanting.
          Trian. – Oh, let's see [reads] 'Counselor Crab wants Liberal Opinions' – I'm sorry for that, for it's not at home. 'The taylor's wife has had Mysterious Warnings, and the apothecary's journeyman, Pills to purge Melancholy.' Now you must take Tales of Terror to the widow Tremor – More Ghosts to the sexton's daughter, the Curse of Sentiment to the butcher, Melting Moments to the tallow chandler, and Old Nick to the attorney.
          Dicky. – Yes, Sir; he! he! he! I'll take the attorney to Old Nick.
          Trian. – No, no, there'll be no necessity for that. Get along, and do as I bid you.

[Exit Dicky.]

[SOURCE: Francis William Blagdon (ed.), Flowers of Literature; for 1804 (London: B. Crosby, 1805), pp. 384–5; from Dibdin's five-act comedy Guilty or Not Guilty, performed at Covent Garden in 1804]

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